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Round and Round (Widgets)


Published 1939


Highly simplified explanation of free-enterprise economics that fails to mention the idea of profit.


Run time 5:53
Producer Handy (Jam) Organization
Sponsor General Motors, Public Relations Staff
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

'Round and 'Round is ÒvoodooÓ economics at its best. Even if we accept its dramatization of the market economy at face value, how can we explain its remarkable failure to explain the basis of it all: the profit motive? In fact, ÒprofitÓ is never mentioned in this film, and economic activity -- Òwidget-makingÓ -- is the activity of a gang of dim-witted puppets who donÕt even dare to admit their selfishness.
ÕRound and ÕRound was an ÒinstitutionalÓ film produced by Jam Handy for the General Motors Department of Public Relations. The impetus for its making probably came from then-president of G.M., Alfred P. Sloan, who supported Òfree-enterpriseÓ education while he headed G.M. and later through his own Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Its theme is consistent with other, similar films produced during the thirties at General Motors, like From Dawn To Sunset (1937), in which workers are portrayed, not as a class with specific interests and an agenda of their own, but rather as producers and consumers, with a major stake in the circularity of the economic process. If the wheels of production are to continue turning, 'Round and 'Round states, we must all willingly accept our codependence. The question asked at the end (ÒDonÕt you think so?Ó) leaves little room for other views.

SHOWS WORKINGS OF AMERICAN ECONOMY USING PUPPETS PRODUCING, DISTRIBUTING & SELLING "WIDGETS".


Ken Smith sez: Crudely animated wood block figures (sort of like a George Pal Puppetoon) move around while the narrator explains the "widget" theory of free enterprise. A frighteningly simplistic look at global economics. Music box soundtrack. Despite its cheap concept, this film is well-produced. The narration is pretty hilarious.

ECONOMICS CAPITALISM MONEY PRODUCTION SALES SELLING DISTRIBUTION PUPPETS ANIMATION STOP-MOTION WIDGETS NOVELTY MODELS FANTASY SURREALISM NITRATE FILM
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Reviews

Reviewer: Refined Taste - - April 21, 2013
Subject: Charming! I wonder why...
Charming!

I wonder why this kiddie movie has attracted the comments of so many childish socialists?
Reviewer: GE_Pretzel - - January 1, 2006
Subject: Very cutesy, but questions remain
This short film employs fluid stop motion animation to present the inner workings of a manufacturer. While aspects of business such as product sales, wages, and the purchase of raw materials are explored, viewers are never told of how profits are generated and used to benefit the company. After watching the workers and customers saunter about, you'll be thankful you have knees!
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - - July 6, 2004
Subject: Capitalist LEGO pr0n!
Jam Handy explains ideal capitalist monetary flow in terms even George W. Bush could understand. Attractive widgets lure in the farmers, coal miners, steel makers, lumbermen. And the widget "builder" (who does exactly zero building of the widgets) takes their money and gives them a widget. Only then does he decide to pay his workers. "That's alright though, because these workmen need the money to buy food and clothing" (starving naked workers might be bad for business). The remaining money goes to buy raw materials to make more widgets, and the raw materials are purchased from the people he sold widgets to. So the money goes round and round - in one end and out the other. No mention of profit.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - June 20, 2004
Subject: Where it stops, Jem Handy knows!
A well-deserved classic of Jam Handy's, the widget film never ceased to amaze me with it's animation, the very low key kid music and of course it's totally over-simplified thinking of economics, eg, Any money you get will only be used to pay the employees and get more goods. What about maintenance? Profits? Upkeep? etc?
I have no idea of who thought up the concept of this film, but it works amazingly well, and is highly reccomended!
Reviewer: RedAliCat - - April 13, 2003
Subject: Early Gumby!
This film, hopefully made for very young children, has a Gumby-like animation feel (though there is an obvious lack of clay). It does avoid the concept of profit, supply and demand, etc. However, by using the generic term "widget" for the product, it demonstrates how today's society will buy poorly made junk that they don't understand how to use nor have a viable reason to use it (think the hysteria of Cabbage Patch Kids or Beanie Babies).
Reviewer: EWKEANE - - February 12, 2003
Subject: widgets go round
neat film.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - December 5, 2002
Subject: Round and Round
Capitalism is explained extremely simplistically via primitive puppet animation. Little toy workers make little toy widgets in a little toy factory. Other little toy puppets buy the widgets with large coins, then those same puppets sell little toy raw materials to the factory, so it can make more widgets. It's hard to tell who this movie was made for. I don't think it's a children's educational film, but it's certainly on a kindergarten level. Again, it tries to convince us that capitalism is a perfect system that makes everybody happy. But if that were so, why did they need films like this?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Ephemeral Films.
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